SCAMMERS TARGET SELF-EMPLOYED WITH FAKE TAX REFUND PROMISE

A surge of bogus tax refund phishing scams is feared by HMRC officials.

The Government body has warned self-employed people to watch out for fraudsters who are likely to want to target the 11.5 million or so who have just recently sent in their Self-Assessment tax returns.

Scammers will attempt to dupe people about tax rebates by email, phone or texts that mimic government messages to make them appear authentic.

Designed to use personal details for selling on to criminals, or to access people’s bank accounts, these attempts to lure in the self-employed have been witnessed in large numbers in the last year or so, judging by HMRC’s latest announcement.

Officials said they had replied to 207,800 referrals from the public of suspicious contact in the past year to January – up 14% from the 181,873 reported for the previous 12 months. More than 79,000 of those referrals offered bogus tax rebates.

HMRC said it also reported 26,443 malicious web pages to internet service providers to be taken down in the year up to January 2024. These sites aim to deceive taxpayers and steal personal information or money. This was a 29% increase from the 20,385 referred by HMRC for removal the previous year, officials said.

Kelly Paterson, HMRC’s Chief Security Officer, said: “With the deadline for tax returns behind us, criminals will now try to trick people with fake offers of tax rebates. Don’t rush into anything, take your time and check HMRC scams advice on GOV.UK.

The main advice from HMRC to point out here is that it would not send an email, text or make phone calls to you to say you are due a refund or indeed to ask you to request a refund.

Received anything suspicious as described in this news item? You can forward emails to phishing@hmrc.gov.uk or texts to 60599.

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